Jeremiah 31:1–40 (NKJV)
31:1 “At the same time,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.”
2 Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword
Found grace in the wilderness—
Israel, when I went to give him rest.”
3 The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
4 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt,
O virgin of Israel!
You shall again be adorned with your tambourines,
And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.
5 You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria;
The planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food.
6 For there shall be a day
When the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim,
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
To the Lord our God.’ ”
7 For thus says the Lord:
“Sing with gladness for Jacob,
And shout among the chief of the nations;
Proclaim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save Your people,
The remnant of Israel!’
8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country,
And gather them from the ends of the earth,
Among them the blind and the lame,
The woman with child
And the one who labors with child, together;
A great throng shall return there.
9 They shall come with weeping,
And with supplications I will lead them.
I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters,
In a straight way in which they shall not stumble;
For I am a Father to Israel,
And Ephraim is My firstborn.
10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
And declare it in the isles afar off, and say,
‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’
11 For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he.
12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion,
Streaming to the goodness of the Lord
For wheat and new wine and oil,
For the young of the flock and the herd;
Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
And they shall sorrow no more at all.
13 “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance,
And the young men and the old, together;
For I will turn their mourning to joy,
Will comfort them,
And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.
14 I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance,
And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.”
The Lord here declares the restoration of Israel and Judah. He will call them back from their captivity, and they will return to Zion in tears, rejoicing to go back to the land of Promise. Those who took their punishment and went into exile are going to return. Those rebelled and fought the chastening were killed and their houses destroyed.
15 Thus says the Lord:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”
16 Thus says the Lord:
“Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.
18 “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself:
‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained bull;
Restore me, and I will return,
For You are the Lord my God.
19 Surely, after my turning, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh;
I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated,
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
20 Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a pleasant child?
For though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.
21 “Set up signposts,
Set your heart toward the highway,
The way in which you went.
Turn back, O virgin of Israel,
Turn back to these your cities.
22 How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man.”
This passage is powerful, in that it speaks of God’s commitment to bring the children of the captives back home. This is often used as a prodigal passage, speaking of the wayward children coming home. However that may be applied, the deeper truth is that the sinfulness of the parents led to the captivity of the children in this case. They were then carried away into captivity as a chastening or disciplining measure by God. In time, though, the children will come home. God has promised that He will bring them home. If your children have been taken into captivity by the enemy, the world, sin, or addiction, know that God has not given up on them. Keep praying, outlast the storm, and God will one day bring them home!
23 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “They shall again use this speech in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I bring back their captivity: ‘The Lord bless you, O home of justice, and mountain of holiness!’ 24 And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all its cities together, farmers and those going out with flocks. 25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.”
26 After this I awoke and looked around, and my sleep was sweet to me.
27 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to throw down, to destroy, and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. 29 In those days they shall say no more:
‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.
As God plucked up His people from Judah, He will now replant them. Whereas they were taken away, He will bring them back. The sour grapes were for the fathers who lived in sin, but the children will no longer suffer. Their time to serve the Lord has come. Don’t let a generational curse or a proclivity in a family keep you from living a life of holiness and service to God. Rise above heritage if that heritage is evil, and walk in holiness, in the Spirit!
31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
35 Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for a light by day,
The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night,
Who disturbs the sea,
And its waves roar
(The Lord of hosts is His name):
36 “If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the Lord,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”
37 Thus says the Lord:
“If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done, says the Lord.
38 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that the city shall be built for the Lord—from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The surveyor’s line shall again extend straight forward over the hill Gareb; then it shall turn toward Goath. 40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or thrown down anymore forever.”
The Lord declares that a new covenant will be established. The key parts of the covenant are a God-given knowledge of His law in the hearts of the people, and a renewed relationship of protection and service between the Lord and His people, respectively. He also promises to re-establish the city of Jerusalem, and pledges to bring back Israel and Judah. This signals a sea-change in the life of the Jews up until this point. The Sinai covenant is now replaced, but not abolished. They are still responsible for the law, but God pledges to put it in their hearts, not just on their scrolls and in their temples. Let God’s word and His laws be in your hearts, not just on your coffeetables or tossed the back seat of your car. Don’t just have it on your phone or tablet or computer as a resourse, but let it be a part of who you are on a daily basis. The Word is life! So walk in life and walk in restoration. Find your way back home.